Tensions were already running high when Atlético Madrid training coach lit the fuse with Stefan Savic after the Leganés match which led to a boot being thrown.
There have been 42 separate injuries at Atlético so far this season. And one of the key relationships that the players have is with fitness coach, 'Profe' Ortega, whose instructions, it was reported, were ignored in Turin midweek, when the defeated team refused to complete their post-match stretches and warm-down. And that wasn't the worst of it.
Savic and Profe Ortega bust-up
After Atlético's LaLiga match against Leganés (in which they scraped to a 1-0 win) there was news from Cope's Tiempo de Juego porgramme of a bust-up between Stefan Savic and manager Diego Simeone. The supposed incident had taken place in the tunnel at the end of the game. AS consulted with the club, who denied it, and following further investigation by AS it was uncovered that the quarrel instead was between Savic and the the Profe.
The game at the Wanda Metropolitano had just ended. The players and coaching staff were in the home changing room. Ortega spoke freely, unaware that Savic was listening:
"This guy doesn't move much," he said, to which Savic, who had played the 90 minutes, responded, "What do you say about me? Say it to may face, you rat!"
The Profe then replied: "I didn't say anything about you..." Savic, however, was not listening anymore. Savic went for the coach, trying to hit him, but others quickly separated the pair. Savic's rage was not curtailed, though, and he grabbed a spare boot, throwing it at the Profe. The boot hit one of the three screens in the changing room, destroying it. And the row continued.
Burnt out Atlético for Juve clash
Some of the other players searched out their manager Simeone, who had been speaking to the media. Upon his arrival, he tried to calm Savic down. He took him to his office, to talk, to reassure him, but he did not take any action against the coach, or to ask him to apologise for the words that caused the confrontation in the first place, something that the players demanded. And this was further aggravated in the training session in Turin. Hard physically, more than usual, and the next day they played for a place in the quarter-finals. The players were burnt out.
After the game, Godin spoke about the failure to warm down. And others seconded his words. The relationship with the physical coach has deteriorated, after complaints began over two years ago. Simeone has not taken action because the Profe has so much power. But this year it has reached a limit, with the 42 injuries and how he is speaking to, and treating the players.
Simeone defends Profe Ortega
The Atlético manager spoke to the press ahead of their return to league action in Bilbao. When asked about the situation, and more directly about the coach, he refused to point fingers.
"These things happen," he replied. "You have to find out how the conversation began and how it ended. The Profe is the best there is. He makes mistakes, of course, we what all know where we have to improve. But Profe Ortega is without a doubt the best there is."